Kuwaiti Cabinet Resigns After a Month, Fueling Political Turmoil

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait’s cabinet ministers resigned after just a month in office, following a dispute with opposition lawmakers over issues including the re-election of parliament’s speaker.

The resignations were forced after a majority of lawmakers backed a request to question Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, a move that could have led to his dismissal or parliament’s dissolution. The cabinet, formed after parliamentary elections last month, was the second Sheikh Sabah has headed in less than a year.

State-run Kuwait News Agency didn’t say whether Sheikh Sabah accepted the ministers’ resignations.

Tensions mounted during parliament’s first session, when incumbent Speaker Marzouq Alghanim was re-elected in a vote that, like most in Kuwait’s parliament, was open to both the elected legislators and cabinet ministers. Opposition lawmakers alleged Alghanim’s victory was due to government intervention and threatened to question the prime minister about it.

Kuwait has had 17 governments and eight elections since 2006. It last chose a new National Assembly on Dec. 5, replacing dozens of incumbent legislators in a blow to pro-government forces, women and liberals.

The fresh turmoil comes at a critical moment for an economy reeling from lower oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic and stalled reform. Lawmakers have thwarted plans to reallocate state handouts and blocked proposals to issue debt. They’ve barely addressed the pressures on the economy, and neither policy makers nor legislators have made reference to a delayed bill that would allow the government to return to international bond markets.

One of the World’s Richest Petrostates Is Running Out of Cash

The Gulf Arab nation, home to about 6% of the world’s oil reserves and the fourth-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is facing a record budget deficit. The International Monetary Fund expects gross domestic product to contract more than 8% in 2020.